As mandatory evacuation orders took effect Saturday morning, the Georgia Department of Transportation was expecting a large number of people would be evacuating using I-16.
But as this storm continues to move west, the DOT’s plans are now also changing.
I-16 westbound traffic never filled all four lanes.
“There aren’t as many people utilizing the contraflow, which is actually maybe a good thing because folks headed the advance warning,” said GOT spokesperson Kyle Collins.
On Saturday afternoon, the DOT ended its contraflow operations as Hurricane Irma shifted further westward, away from Georgia’s coastline.
A total of 94 counties are under a state of emergency.
As of Saturday 2 p.m., Irma has maximum sustained winds of 125 mph. It's moving to the west at 9 mph. The storm is 145 miles southeast of Key West, Florida. It remains a strong Category 3 storm, but it is expected to strengthen once it moves away from Cuba toward Florida.
Maximum sustained winds on Irma have decreased as a result of interaction with the mountains of Cuba, but once the storm moves out over the open water, it is expected to strengthen rapidly.
Once it comes ashore in Florida, it would begin to weaken as it moves northward in northern Florida and into Georgia. Areas to the right of the center of the storm would experience some of the strongest effects of the storm, including severe thunderstorms and possible spin-up tornadoes. As the storm comes ashore, tornado watches will be issued for areas along the storm's path.
The main threats for metro Atlanta at this point appear to be wind, with sustained winds between 25-35 mph and gusts up to 50 mph. We could also see between 3 to 5 inches of rain.